Several Chinese cities this Friday (2) relaxed the anti-Covid measures that sparked protests across the country, with the approval of the president himself, Xi Jinping, who claimed that the current wave of the pandemic is “less lethal” than than the previous ones.
“Now the epidemic in China is basically (of the variant) Omicron, less lethal, and (…) this allows for more openness in restrictions,” Xi told European Council President Charles Michel.
The demonstrations in recent days to demand the lifting of restrictions are because people are “frustrated” after three years of the pandemic, the Chinese leader told Charles Michel in a conversation on Thursday (1st), according to European officials who asked to not be identified.
High-ranking national government officials have suggested they may soften the Covid-zero policy.
On Wednesday, in a speech to the National Health Commission, Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan acknowledged that the Omicron variant is less dangerous and said that the vaccination rate has increased in the country, according to the news agency. state-owned Xinhua.
China’s way of dealing with the virus is “under new circumstances”, he added.
A central figure in the Chinese strategy to combat the pandemic, Sun made no mention of the zero tolerance policy for Covid-19, and hinted that perhaps this policy could be softened.
Last weekend, discontent with the government’s health strategy sparked protests of a magnitude unprecedented in decades in the country.
Chinese authorities reacted quickly to crack down on the movement, with a significant police deployment on the streets and heightened surveillance on social media. This did not prevent sporadic demonstrations.
After the protests, several cities began to relax restrictions.
“We are pleased that the Chinese authorities are adjusting their current strategy and calibrating control measures” based on several factors, said this Friday, at a press conference in Geneva, the director of emergencies of the World Health Organization (WHO) , Michael Ryan.
quarantine at home
In theory, anyone infected with Covid-19 in China should be isolated in a quarantine center.
But that seems to be changing.
In an analysis published today by Diário do Povo, the Communist Party’s newspaper, health experts supported measures announced by some regional authorities to allow people who test positive for Covid to quarantine at home.
Officials in several neighborhoods in the Chaoyang district of Beijing reported that this measure has already been applied in their sector.
The industrial city of Dongguan (south) announced on Thursday that people with “specific conditions” should be allowed to stay at home during the lockdown. These conditions were not specified.
The tech megalopolis of Shenzhen (south) began enforcing a similar policy on Wednesday.
From Monday (5), the inhabitants of Beijing will be able to ride the bus or subway again without having to present a negative result of the PCR test of less than 48 hours, according to the mayor’s office, this Friday.
Now it will only be necessary to have a green health passport, which confirms that the person has not passed through any “high risk” area.
The same measure came into effect today in Chengdu (southwest).
In the capital, authorities asked hospitals to stop rejecting patients who do not have a negative PCR test less than 48 hours later.
China has recorded several deaths due to delay in medical treatment caused by anti-Covid measures. This was the case of a 4-month-old baby who recently died due to the requirement to remain in quarantine with his father.
hotels and restaurants
Last weekend’s demonstrations once again recalled these deaths. On social networks, a widely shared message has a list of names of people who died as a result of negligence motivated by health restrictions.
Other cities, also affected by new outbreaks of coronavirus, began to authorize the reopening of restaurants, malls and schools, and set aside the severe measures that were in place.
In the city of Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang region (northwest), scene of a fire that motivated the first demonstrations, the authorities announced this Friday that supermarkets, hotels, ski resorts and restaurants will reopen gradually.